Ikea is a brand on the up. Its UK sales increased by 8.9% to £1.72bn in the year to the end of August 2016, with its share of the home furnishings market up 0.5 percentage points to 8.2%.
And it is kick-starting 2017 with a new campaign focused on sleep. Created by its agency Mother, the fully integrated campaign will look at the “human side” of sleep, using the analogy of athletes preparing to compete as a parallel to the way adults should invest in the ritual of going to sleep. It also cleverly changes up its creative platform ‘The Wonderful Everyday’ to ‘The Wonderful Everynight’.
For Ikea’s new marketing boss Laurent Tiersen, the campaign is the epitome of what the Swedish brand stands for: “There is a lack of sleep across the nation. In this country we are time poor so we sacrifice sleep. There was a report in the BBC in November about how this is having an impact on the economy and productivity and health and costing the UK £40bn a year.
He adds: “We don’t focus on the cost or the negative, we focus on the human side; that is more in line with our DNA and our philosophy The Wonderful Everyday. The creative platform is about little changes that can have a big impact on daily life. [People] usually focus on big changes but little changes every day can lead to a better life.”
Evolving Ikea’s marketing
Ikea has been on a journey with its marketing over the past couple of years. The Wonderful Everyday platform launched three years ago as a means for the brand to show its knowledge of and interest in people’s lives and how that tied into its range. Initially that was a philosophical approach, but Ikea is now showcasing a lot more of its products and solutions in its advertising and content.
While the business results speak for themselves, Tiersen says it has also seen an uptick in brand consideration, awareness and trust.
“All the parameters are increasing and we see people connecting easily with the concept,” he says. “As a creative platform it is strong but easily adjustable and adaptable. And it is not a standalone thing. It is a great opportunity to ensure the physical encounter with the customer evolves, that is why we try to challenge our own concept with pop-up solutions, order-and-collection points, and dining clubs. We are trying to surprise.”
We realise we need to engage with the way people are used to engaging in the different channels.
Laurent Tiersen, Ikea
How the brand advertises is also having to evolve. For this campaign, Ikea has thought very hard about how it works online, on social media and on mobile. Tiersen admits Ikea used to “just take a TV ad and put it on social” but says that while fans of the brand might have liked the content it did not engage with those who were not already customers of the brand.
And so over the past year it has explored ways of adapting length and format to work on mobile, taking into account that brands have to grab attention in the first few seconds and that videos need subtitles.
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“We realise we need to engage with the way people are used to engaging in the different channels. For instance in the past year we have explored different ways and adapted the length, the format, the conditions. On social media of course you have to grab attention within a few seconds,” he explains.
For this campaign that includes online videos that focuses on the look on people’s faces when they are, for example, carrying a mattress up to the bedroom. And Ikea is investing more money into social and CRM, as well as content for its websites, although that doesn’t mean it has any plans to leave more traditional formats behind.
Tiersen adds: “We see them as two big elements that are as important. Being able to talk to people in the language and to be where people are today. And also complementing with the traditional messages on TV. It is more the interaction between the different elements that makes the richness of the relations with consumer.”
Turning challenges into opportunities
This year is expected to be a difficult year for retailers with a cocktail of challenges including Brexit, a drop in consumer spending and balancing staff costs such as the new living wage. Yet Tiersen says Ikea has proven its “resilience” before and that such challenges simply put pressure on the brand to be “leaner, simpler and more agile”.
“Take the living wage,” he says. “We embrace it as an opportunity to stay true to our philosophy. We say ‘The Wonderful Everyday’ and we want our co-workers to have possibility to have stable work and a better life. If they feel better at work then they will help us grow and we will be more successful.”
For Ikea there is also the challenge of more people renting, and those that do buy purchasing smaller flats and houses with less room for furniture. That is why it is now focusing on the “home furnishings” market.
“The need for furnishing is changing. Yes you need the basics to furnish a home but you also need to find some ways to change your home more regularly. There is a good opportunity there to also sell solutions around accessories that contribute to having a better life. It is not just about wardrobes but also textiles, cushions and candles and all the other sides to decorating the home.
“The essence of what we stand for, we need to stay true to it. But the way you reach that can evolve. If we did not evolve we would not still be here. We have to constantly evolve.”